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Tsvangirai Targets Belgium to Fund Election Campaign

Morgan Tsvangirai
Tsvangirai on his trip to Belgium

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai is expected to leave London tomorrow for Brussels, Belgium, reportedly on a mission to beg for money to sponsor his election cam­paign ahead of March harmonised polls next year, close sources in his party revealed yesterday.

Mr Tsvangirai, who is also Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister in the inclusive Government, left the country on Thursday last week for a honeymoon after his controver­sial customary union with Ms Eliza­beth Macheka last month. However, sources say Tsvangirai was expected to take this opportunity to approach some countries and organisations that are traditional fun­ders of his party to release money for his poll campaigns.

“According to information we have, he is leaving London for Brussels on the 8th of this month (tomorrow) to meet officials there to mobilise fund­ing for the party’s election campaign ahead of elections next year,” said the official.

Tsvangirai did not travel with a big entourage as he reportedly wanted to keep details of his trip under wraps.

Government sources also revealed that Tsvangirai did not have offi­cial meetings with the officials from the country’s diplomatic mission in London. “He went to the UK honeymooning . . . unlike his previous trips, this time he was only accompanied by a private secretary in his office and his aides,” added the source. Details of his travel have not been made public since he left the country last week.

Some local private newspapers that always follow up on his foreign trips and report on them have been mum.
Contacted for comment on Monday, MDC-T spokesperson Mr Douglas Mwonzora referred all questions to the Prime Minister’s Office. The Minister of State in the Prime Minister Office, Mr Jameson Timba, also declined to comment and referred questions to the President’s Office. “I will refer you to the Office of the President and Cabinet on those issues (the PM Tsvangirai’s travel itinerary),” he said on Monday.

Mr Timba yesterday repeated that he was not at liberty to comment on Mr Tsvangirai’s visit. The MDC-T leader is expected to engage a number of organisations on how they can support the MDC-T ahead of the polls. According to the Political Parties (Finance) Act political parties are not allowed to receive external funding to finance their political activities.

However, some Western non-gov­ernmental organisations have been used as conduits to channel money into Zimbabwe to fund MDC-T operations. Last month the Prime Minister also visited Botswana on another fund-raising initiative. Sources in his party said the Botswana visit was part of a long scheduled meeting for him to meet President Ian Khama.

Although he was officially invited to Botswana by the country’s Vice-Presi­dent Dr Ponatshego Kedikilwe, the issue of funding took centre stage dur­ing his meeting with President Khama. PM Tsvangirai and President Khama met privately for more than 30 minutes and details of their meeting were not made public.

Cables released by whistleblower website Wikileaks also showed that Morocco had clandestinely funded the MDC-T leader in his bid to oust Pres­ident Mugabe in the 2008 general elec­tions.

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